Today’s Headlines

  • Bill Bratton, Political Free Agent, Says He Intentionally Kicked Up Fuss Over Times Square Plazas (WSJ)
  • Times Square Task Force Members Still Waiting for Their First Meeting (WNBC)
  • NYPD Hands Out Jaywalking Tickets If the Precinct Commander Feels Like It (Village Voice)
  • Most Peds Killed in Southern Bklyn Are Old, So NYPD Hands Out Ped-Blaming Flyers (DNA)
  • More Coverage of Christie-Cuomo Letter on Hudson Rail Funding (NYT, Politico, Observer, WNYC)
  • WNYC Wants Your Photos of Blocked Bike Lanes
  • Under New Program, Showtime Dancers Move to Sidewalks Instead of Subway (NYT)
  • DOT Offers Update on Astoria Traffic Calming to CB 1 (Q Gazette)
  • A New Plaza Could Be on Its Way to Williamsburg (DNA)
  • No, Of Course We Shouldn’t Talk About How to Make Cycling Safer After a Cyclist Dies (Advance)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • BBnet3000

    NYPD Hands Out Jaywalking Tickets If the Precinct Commander Feels Like It

    We have pretty much given up on the enforcement side of Vision Zero thanks to the ridiculous executive power of these village strongmen.

    Of course it didn’t help that Bratton supported VZ right up until the day he actually started the job.

  • stairbob

    “One of the reasons I enjoy de Blasio is that he has confidence in my decision-making,” Mr. Bratton said. “Plus, he’s lily-livered. He’d never dream of firing me for making up policy without his approval or for spouting off about ill-conceived plans for pedestrian plazas at press conferences.”

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Bratton sounds like a complete sociopath in the WSJ article – no wonder he ignores traffic violence and the 1,200 New Yorkers killed or maimed every month..

  • Reader

    “To be frank,” he said, “that was a conscious remark on that part, even including the ‘damn’ in there, and it had the desired effect. One of the ways to smoke people out very quickly is make a strong statement.”

    Match this up against de Blasio’s wishy-washiness and you ave a recipe for disaster, especially on something as important as Vision Zero. He’s been “smoked out” by Bratton as weak and indecisive.

  • Bolwerk

    He got his job because he was a sociopath. Many, probably most, NYC police already are self-selected sociopaths. Nobody else could alternate between shameless political bootlicking and brutality with a clear conscience. Especially while defending the completely discredited cargo cult that is broken windows with a straight face.

  • Bolwerk

    I’m still amazed that nobody wanted to know whom Bill de Blasio was going to appoint police commissioner before voting for him. I pointed that out to de Blasio fans repeatedly. And they just sort of drooled and shrugged, as if I was a krazy person who didn’t watch them get fucked over the same way by Clinton, Obama, and numerous other Democrats (O’Malley in Maryland: supposed champion of criminal justice reform – hah!).

    The sad part is de Blasio is likely to win reelection because the only major party alternative is, of course, going to be a Republikan, and thefore automatically worse. Seriously: you can outsmart a self-styled “conservative” simply by thinking three-dimensionally. But you can outsmart a “liberal” by thinking four-dimensionally.

  • Simon Phearson

    On Ped-Blaming Flyers – I admit that I totally get the point, but recently, biking home, I had an encounter with a jaywalking, elderly, and slow-moving person. We were under an elevated track, so the lighting wasn’t great, and she was actually very difficult to see in her grey-ish clothing, even with my headlight on one of its brighter settings and pointing ahead.

    I saw her with plenty of time, slowed down, and had absolutely no issues negotiating the situation. Still, the way she blended into the darkness lends these flyers some credence, in my view. That’s so even though, ultimately, it’s incumbent upon me to be traveling at a speed and with an awareness that allows me to spot and avoid pedestrians in the street, no matter what they’re wearing. I honestly wanted to pull over and tell her how hard she was to see, as a warning – because I don’t trust most drivers to be as conscientious as (I felt) I was.

  • NYer

    I wonder if the new LED traffic signals and street lights might be contributing to some of this pedestrian slaughter. The new LED lights seem to be incredibly bright. I find that in some conditions these very bright points of red, green and white light on the streetscape actually make it harder to see people and things on the street itself. Anyone else have this experience?

  • While a traditional Republican along the lines of the far-right Giuliani would be worse than de Blasio or any other Democrat, let’s remember that New York City’s Republicans are not always cut from that mould. The three best mayors we have ever had — Lindsay, LaGuardia, and Bloomberg — were all Republicans. All of them had significant differences from the national party, so much so in Lindsay’s case that he left it.

    Anyway, there’s absolutely no reason to suggest that de Blasio is likely to win re-election. He has achieved the remarkable feat of angering his opponents while alienating his base. Even if the Republicans don’t have anyone sincerely interested in social justice and human rights such as Lindsay, any anti-corruption crusaders such as LaGuardia, or anyone who cares about livable streets such as Bloomberg, the current mayor will certainly face significant challenges from other Democrats.

    Tish James will voice the concerns relating to livable streets and to excessive police violence, thereby speaking to the constituency that de Blasio has abandoned. Meanwhile, expect Anthony Weiner, now almost fully rehabilitated from his Twitter scandals, to revive his mayoral ambitions — and his hostility to bike lanes. Surely there are other Democrats who, sensing de Blasio’s weakness, will feel that this is the time to jump into the fray.

    I’d say that the next mayoral election is wide open. While one can never rule out a win for an incumbent, right now I’d put the current incumbent’s chances at survival at less than 50%.

  • Joe R.

    The LED traffic signals have been around for a number of years. If anything, I think they make things safer in that you can see the state of the signal from much further away, sometimes half a mile if line of sight permits. As for the LED streetlights, they haven’t been installed in large numbers outside of expressways, so they obviously couldn’t be making any difference. Also, if anything they will allow greater visibility. One flaw of the present HPS lights is the spectrum kills both depth perception and peripheral vision. In short, you get tunnel vision and you can’t easily see road defects like potholes until you’re on top of them. That’s in addition to the yellowish light casting an eerie, depressing, pallor on things which studies have shown tends to drive up crime. The LED streetlights should be an improvement on all fronts. If there are any glare issues, it will be because of poor design, not due to any inherent issue with the LED light itself. Whiter light will result in greater contrast between pedestrians and their surroundings. Often under the present HPS lights it’s hard to tell dark blue from dark gray, for example. I think the LED streetlights are slated to be installed citiwide by the end of 2017, assuming our economy doesn’t collapse by them.

  • Joe R.

    I agree. I’ll also add that incumbents fare badly in hard economic times. Based of some of my recent reading, it seems almost certain we’re going to get hit with a major economic collapse as bad or worse than 2008 on de Blasio’s watch. It may well be many will vote for anyone but him just based on that.

  • Bolwerk

    Those three mayors all sucked, though ironically Lindsay was probably the best of the lot. Lindsay was incompetently good, while LaGuardia and Bloomberg were competently evil. Either that, or Lindsay was just so overwhelmed by forces beyond his control that there wasn’t much he could do anyway; either way, his politicking seemed amateur. LaGuardia brought us Moses and a yet-to-truly-reverse decline of good public transportation construction. I like some of Bloomberg’s environmental policies, but overall he was the blandest motherfucker I have ever seen. We should have bad 20 miles of new subway under somone as politically “independent” (for lack of a better word) as Bloomberg, especially given it was a period of growth for the city. Bloomberg’s war on poor/brown people was as relentless as Giuliani’s, and now Bill de Blasio is too spineless to try to stop it.

    Yeah, BdB could lose. But he only angered his base pretty much by just being a continuation of Bloomberg/Giuliani, which most of us in the 99.9% are tired of, whether we realize it or not. Maybe that leaves room for a Bernie Sanders-esque insurrection? I posted a pretty detailed message a month and a half ago as to why BdB has a lot of strength going into the next election; he has since managed to anger some of his “liberal” supporters with the Times Square debacle, but it basically still holds true. He could get tired of being shat on and just quit, but if he runs he has a good shot.

    Just don’t count on Bratton checking his name in t he voting booth. 😀

  • Matthias

    Not with traffic lights, but NYPD flashing lights are blinding. They regularly drive through parks after dark with lights flashing, which makes it impossible to see anyone or anything until they get a good 200-300 feet away.

  • While practically, you might have a point, you do make the real point clear. Drivers need to drive at a speed where they can operate their vehicle safely in the face of hard to see obstacles like people. Sadly, this isn’t the direction the police or DOT seem to be moving.

  • Bolwerk

    Most doomsaying about economic collapse comes from austerians predicting hyperinflation because, oh noes, borrowing! Don’t listen to them. They’ve been wrong every year for how long now? AIUI, the kind of overleveraging (largely of crappy derivatives) that presaged the 2008 collapse hasn’t even remotely been repeated.

    We are likely in a real estate bubble though. I would guess it will burst eventually and hurt New York disproportionately.

    I suppose the finance sector remains…volatile. But that’s been true since Reagan.

  • WoodyinNYC

    The usual or average time between pre-recession peaks is about 7 years.

    The our recent (and on-going) Great Recession began December, 2007. The crash bottomed after the Lehman Bros bankruptcy in Sept. 2008.

    Playing by the averages, we’re due for another recession pretty soon now.

    I’m not expecting the sky to fall, LOL. But the bad economy we have doesn’t have to fall very far before there’s gonna be lots of pain all around.

    If we’re in recession a year from now, whaddaya think, gonna be hard to elect a Democrat.

  • Maggie

    Christ, what a jackass Bratton is. No comment when people are maimed or killed in Midtown. But topless women in the vicinity where a topless guy with a guitar has been busking for the last decade or so? Yowsers! That’s an imminent public security threat that NYPD wants to ‘fix’ by bringing more car traffic through.

    Really, what was he trying to smoke out? It makes no sense. I’m so often surprised Bratton is only 67; I usually think from his comments that he’s in his mid 80s.

  • J_12

    I think he’s “smoking out” the boundaries of how much control he can seize from the weak mayor who appointed him. I’m not fan of Giuliani, but he fired Bratton for trying take too much credit and get too much media attention. Blasio clearly is willing to let Bratton take the lead and control the discussion, at least publicly.

  • J_12

    I disagree – most NYC police are normal people who would be hard to distinguish from you and me if they didn’t have a badge.
    They are rational and self-interested, just like most people, and they are members of organization that his structured itself to reward and encourage sociopathic behavior.
    The fish rots from the head, as they say.

  • J_12


    let’s not forget that Bratton allowed the NYPD to engage in a work “slowdown” protest and Blasio just sat back and accepted it.

  • Joe R.

    The stuff I’ve been reading sounds a lot worse. Here’s a sample:

    Basically, it’s the total collapse of our monetary system soon followed by the collapse of everything depending upon it. That includes the electrical grid and fuel supplies.

    On the other hand, I’d personally welcome a bursting real estate bubble. I eventually want to buy out my brother and sister’s share of my mom’s place. That would be a lot easier to do if the house were worth $300K instead of $600K. It’ll also mean affordable housing for other middle class people.

  • J_12

    this pretty off topic, but recessions and earthquakes don’t really work like that. you won’t be able to write down a first or second order wave function to fit historical recession frequencies, let alone predict future recessions.

  • Maggie

    The flipside is that economic expansions have been lasting longer – the 90s expansion was nearly ten years – and recoveries after a debt crisis, like the one we’re in, usually are slower, i.e. less of a V-shaped rebound, and grind on for longer.

    No crystal ball; but I think the biggest foreseeable risks today are the new presidential administration in 2017 making economic missteps, or potential contagion if China went through a turbulent slowdown. Or a tech shakeout, maybe.

    I agree with Bolwerk that NY resi at the high end (the tail that wags the dog, in terms of the whole city’s apartment market) is driven quite a bit by black-box foreign money. There’s not really a good reason not to scrutinize source of funds for real estate buyers with the same guidelines we’d use for opening a U.S. bank account. I think if that were introduced, demand would weaken a lot on some of the ultra-luxury towers, the ones that are selling to triple-shell anonymous LLCs. Not sure it would be bad for the city overall though.

    Back on the topic of streets: WHAT IS THE DEAL with the SI Advance?! I somewhat agree that in this case, it’s hard to confidently say a bike lane would have saved the women on Hylan Blvd. A runaway boat could have crushed a driver, or jumped a barrier over to a bike lane and killed a biker anyway. But what does it say about these guys when the tragic, hideous death of a vulnerable road user scares the hell out of them in terms of discussing how to design roads that are safe for everyone.

  • Bolwerk

    Sure, at best they are. All the more reason not to give them special privileges. They lie, cheat, fight, and steal at least at much as anyone else and probably more. Then they have immunities and privileges the rest of us don’t have.

  • Maggie

    You’re probably right. I had the sense de Blasio pushed back hard after Bratton’s dog-whistled remarks last week on the 1950s-era Daniel Patrick Moynihan report though.

    It’s really crazy what a public embarrassment the NYPD can be.

  • Bolwerk

    I don’t have time to read that whole thing right now, but on face it seems like quackery. The American monetary system has proven to be totally stable throughout the crisis. Investors feel so secure with American currency that we might actually be experiencing a deflation spell (partly blamed on dropping oil prices, BTW).

    And the whole green energy boom we’re experiencing these days, at least in advanced economies, rather belies those assumptions about oil production even if they historically were true. Energy prices are stable or dropping, and energy is getting greener.

  • Bolwerk

    Recessions are normal parts of the business cycle. We had a near-recession at the beginning of this year, actually.

    I’m hesitant to mock people who think the sky is falling. You could, actually, argue that poor financial regulation greatly increases the chances of disaster, but financial doomsayers practically sound like eschatologists. Plus, those same doomsayers usually oppose financial regulation. Either way, many of the conditions that presaged the last recession just aren’t there now.

    I don’t see what the Democrats really would have to do with a recession. Obama’s economic management, under the circumstances, has been fairly good. I know some people would blame him, but de Blasio has even less to do with economic peaks and troughs than just about anyone. RWA de Blasio critics have different standards for de Blasio and Bloomberg, even though they’re almost the same person.

  • Joe R.

    I’m not sure what to think of it. Agreed we’re transitioning fairly rapidly to sustainable energy and thorium reactors look very promising within a generation or less. Gail’s premise is that once the economy collapses we’ll abruptly go dark, and therefore it won’t matter if alternatives exist because the modern infrastructure to implement them won’t be functional. Not sure I agree with that. I tend to think energy sector workers would be willing to work for barter if need be when the monetary system collapses if the alternative is our entire world going back to the middle ages.

  • Bolwerk

    Exactly why would the monetary system collapse? Most major first world currencies are in pretty good shape. Things like the yen, pound, and (Swiss) franc all seem stable. The Canadian dollar dropped, again thanks in part to oil prices, but that currency value drop hasn’t hurt the Canadian economy too much AFAICT. The euro is the most frightening major currency right now, and even it seems far from being in its death throes.

    Saying debt payments are too high is a cop-out. It’s scarcely a monetary problem anyway, but you can reduce debt burden with inflation. It’s true that you can stimulate demand with borrowing, but in stimulating demand you encourage inflation. European countries’ borrowing are limited by treaty for no reason I can discern (neoliberal wetdream?) – well, except for the fact that they can’t control their own monetary policies (except for the UK).

    You can practically flip the implicit premise: demand is probably low because of high debt burdens, rather than debt being too high because of low demand.

  • BBnet3000

    Some Brooklyn neighborhoods (Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace at least) have been fully fitted with LED streetlights for about 6 months now. Personally I prefer them.

  • Bolwerk

    He did? His response seemed like, “Hurr, agree to disagree, but Bratton is great. Now watch this drive!”

    Of all things to actually push back on, you’d think he would push back on this. Saying that because that report was really fucking racist even by the standards of a 1960s politician from outside the south, especially in the context of actual research that it’s wrong about black families being broken. It’s stereotyping disguised as sociology.

    Oh, and his wife is black. His children are mixed race, but would probably be called black by anyone on the street. That should be personal.

  • BBnet3000

    Bloomberg did more to modernize the way this city operates than any other Mayor I am aware of, both administratively and physically. There are plenty of things I don’t like about him (Ray Kelly, stop and frisk, his snobbish insistence that we do nothing that might ever bother Wall Street executives) but I definitely think he belongs in the ranks of best mayors.

  • Maggie

    That’s true – I assumed from this article that Bratton got called in to city hall for an exceedingly frank exchange of views with his boss. Bratton backpedaled on what he meant, and de Blasio publicly said he disagreed, but you’re right – the mayor’s public statement was mild.

    I wasn’t alive in the 1960s but I still find it hard to believe a public figure would refer to the report today without understanding how discredited, downright creepy, and tone-deaf it sounds.

    De Blasio pushed back hard in private, is my guess. If he believes in Vision Zero, I think he could do the same.

  • Bolwerk

    I can think of a lot of things he did, but the results usually rank between meh and not so flattering. Some of his education work was actually good, but charter schools? That might have been stupidity, but the cost and outcome almost borders on corruption, but for the fact that Bloomberg couldn’t possibly have gained personally. Just fix public schools like every other first world country can, k thx.

    His housing and economic policies basically ignored poverty* and increasing prices while letting Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens turn into a playground for wealthy executives.

    He liked to think of himself as a fiscal conservative (an idea with some merit in NYC, if not nationally), but didn’t really cut government fat or, my preference, even redirect resources to more foward-thinking projects.

    He did some rezoning, which is good, but land use regulations weren’t much better after his mayoralty than they were before.

    I like that he worked on safer streets, in some ways better than BdB. Bike lanes are great, and it was probably harder than we imagine to install them. I’ll take 34th Street-Javits Center, but for that kind of money we should have gotten a few miles of subway. And his transit policies were almost always underwhelming: BRT should have been citywide. He wouldn’t do any light rail. Subways only for rich developer friends.

    CP was a good idea. It’s not his fault it failed.

    I know he was smart, even effective in his own ways, but a lot of what he gets lauded for is stuff that would have happened just as well under Green or even Fernandez. Or, shit, we could have just kept Dinkins around. Then Bloomberg just had a childlike naivete about some things, like public-private partnerships. And stuff like, yes, his policing policy really was plain pointless and unconscionable. Disappointed as I am in de Blasio, I feel like Bloomberg should have had more courage, except he probably just didn’t think there was anything wrong with police brutality.

    * not so different from BdB, of course

  • Bolwerk

    I read it a long time ago. Some of the policy prescriptions probably made some sense (access to jobs, duh), so the report may not be entirely stupid.

    That canard about broken families keeps getting dredged back up despite national trends toward lowering crime and increasing public safety – which began before Bratton was in power, at least in NYC.

  • Flakker

    Wrobleski is A: a terrible columnist by any measure and B: incredibly thin-skinned on issues perceived as “liberals”.

    He pretty much singlehandedly (if you include the SI Advance unsigned editorials that read like his work) has been whining nonstop about the vague evils of “progressive” this and that and mocked bicyclists as a class as “kids” (as opposed to motorist adults, who, amusingly, are perpetually stuck in traffic yet “have no choice but to drive”).

    Now, as soon as the Advance went on an epic bitchfest about (THE CB 1 APPROVED!) Clove Road bike lanes, which they were desperately trying to pin on the city and progressives as a sinister conspiracy, this happens and Wrobleski, instead of actually dealing with the issue at hand, is obsessed with tamping down discussion, cause, you know, you wouldn’t expect opinion columnists to have anything to say on this. I suspect that’s because this is not about actual street safety or even traffic flow.

    I don’t think he, and whatever’s left of the editorial staff, hate actual cyclists so much as they want to keep blaming all problems, including imaginary traffic problems like around the yet-to-be-built Ferris wheel, on outside forces, of which bicycling advocates are among the most visible in that they can see bike lanes when they drive. This is an extremely Staten Island attitude, “all our problems are someone else’s fault” that has driven politics here for years.